The Chandra X-ray Observatory took a picture of a huge hand-shaped object that was created by a supernova explosion and its aftermath. It sounds like science fiction, but it is quite possible.
The Cosmic Arm is located in a stretch of space about 17,000 light-years from Earth. The Hand was created by the destruction of a massive star in a supernova explosion, leaving behind a rapidly spinning, superdense stellar corpse known as a pulsar, Chandra’s team members said in a description of the images.
The pulsar blew a bubble of energetic particles around it, which combined with debris caused by the supernova explosion to create an arm-like structure that spans 150 light years. Meanwhile, the luminous structure it is aiming for is a giant gas cloud known as RCW 89.
A supernova relic in the heart of the hand, called MSH 15-52, is located about 17,000 light-years from Earth. According to Chandra’s team members, astronomers believe the light from its explosion reached us about 1,700 years ago, making MSH 15-52 one of the youngest supernova remnants known in our Milky Way galaxy.
The study showed that the supernova blast wave, which lies at the tips of the fingers of the hand, propagates at a speed of about 14.5 million km / h, and the material closer to the palm moves even faster – 17.7 million km / h.
“ While these are astonishingly high speeds, they are actually deceleration of residues. Researchers estimate that to reach the farthest edge of RCW 89, the material must travel at an average speed of almost 48.2 million km / h, ”Chandra’s team members wrote in the image description.
“ This difference in speed means that the material passed through the low-density gas cavity and then slowed down significantly due to entering the RCW 89,” they added.
According to Chandra’s team members, the dead star likely created such a cavity shortly before the explosion, when it lost most of its outer hydrogen layer.